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Class of 2020, Russian major, Dobro Slovo member. UIUC’s Russian major prepared me for what was to come in my studies and in my professional career in innumerable ways. Having only taken the first two years of Russian at UIUC, I studied abroad in Vladimir, Russia and was successfully able to experience daily life with the language and to use the thorough cultural and linguistic knowledge I’d been taught to adapt to my surroundings and to reach an advanced level of proficiency before returning home. The Russian program at Illinois stands out to me because it addresses complexities in second language acquisition by including multiple methods and teaching approaches in the language classrooms. We practiced listening, presenting, reading, writing, and conversation through role-playing, watching short films, playing games, and much more - these exercises paired with the cultural background offered by Illinois led me to being able to thrive in Russia. The Slavic department also offers literature/cultural courses that have served as keys for me not only in preparing to use Russian professionally and communicatively on a daily basis, but also in exploring various topics within the field and discovering how I can use Russian to navigate my interests and hobbies. For example, the class “Russian and E. Euro Folktales” introduced me to my love for folklore, and the author courses were outstanding in so many aspects, from covering the works in great detail in group discussions to guiding students in analyzing literature overall. Also, it is crucial to note the exceptional scholarship present in the department - the Slavic professors at UIUC are incredibly knowledgeable, welcoming, helpful, and inspiring. I started out in a different major, but it did not take long for me to switch to the Slavic department after meeting them and taking a couple classes. 

Now, I am studying to earn my Master’s in Teaching Russian from Washington University in St. Louis. Soon, I plan to start a Russian language program at a high school near my hometown (Alton, IL.) and to begin encouraging others to pursue Russian in their academic/professional careers. My time in Slavic at Illinois launched me into a career which will entail using Russian every day, visiting Russia as frequently as possible, maintaining lifelong friendships with my host family and others, exploring Slavic cultures as they evolve over time, and so much more.